Leeds Rhinos: Radford won’t rest players for crucial clash at Headingley

Hull FC's Gareth Ellis with coach Lee Radford with the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
Hull FC's Gareth Ellis with coach Lee Radford with the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
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THURSDAY’S GAME at Leeds Rhinos is a tall order for Ladbrokes Challenge Cup winners Hull, their coach Lee Radford admits.

But Radford insists he is not planning to rest players from his Wembley team and Hull will be going to Headingley to win.

Hull, who retained the Cup with an 18-14 victory against Wigan Warriors on Saturday, are third in the Betfred Super-8s, one place and three points behind Rhinos with four games to play.

Rhinos will guarantee a semi-final place and move within a victory of securing second spot – and a home tie – if they win.

It will be their first game for two weeks and Radford admitted his men will be at a disadvantage, but he said they are determined not to fall after the way they did after Wembley last year.

“Thursday is difficult,” Radford conceded.

“There’s the psychological emotions to deal with.

“We’ve had to play for 80 minutes and there’s the physical challenge as well for Thursday.

“It is difficult, I am under no illusions. I know what Thursday is going to be, but this time around we will be better.

“We will be better prepared. We haven’t been great all year, but we’ve been great when we needed to be.

“If we can get in the top-four – whether we are at home or away – we will be great.”

Radford admitted Hull were determined to enjoy their post-Wembley celebrations, but he added: “After that we will be focusing on Leeds. It is not a bigger challenge than the final, but it’s a different one.”

Asked if he will make major changes for this week’s game, Radford said: “That’s not going to be the case.

“We are backing up.”

Hull captain Gareth Ellis – a former Leeds player – also believes they have learned lessons from 2016.

“We are striving to be consistent,” he said.

“I still don’t think we have hit the consistency we did last year, but we have found a way to perform in the big games.

“I think because we have tasted the success of last year and how good it felt to win the Challenge Cup, we have got a taste for it. It bodes well. For us as a club it means we are moving forward and heading in the right direction.”